Monday, May 22, 2006

*Respect Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Free Rep. Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran!

Statement of the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP)

The Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, a coalition of composed of grassroots organizations of workers, women, students, human rights advocates, civil libertarians, church people, NGOs, journalists and migrant workers in Hong Kong, vehemently condemn the continued detention of Rep. Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Party.

His illegal arrest and detention since February 24 by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Groups (CIDG) of the national police gravely violates his fundamental human and political rights. His continued detention despite his critical health condition exposes the government’s lack of respect for human rights specially those who are critical of the government’s policies.Moreso, other members of the Parliament belonging to progressive partylists like Reps. Satur Ocampo, Joel Virador and Teodoro Casino of Bayan Muna (People First) Party; Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis Party and Rep. Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party are under the threat of warrant-less arrest.

On Feb. 28, the entire House of Representatives, recognizing that probable cause has yet to be established in their case, unanimously approved House Resolution 1169, a bipartisan resolution that reaffirmed the right of Rep. Beltran and the rest of the progressive parliamentarians to due process and gave them “protective custody” absent any judicially issued warrant of arrest resulting from a preliminary investigation or indictment.However, despite the Lower House’s protective custody, the Arroyo government, specifically its National Police, has disregarded this very basic right and insists that once they get out of their offices, they will be arrested even without warrant in clear violation of their rights under the Constitution and various laws.Even after the so-called lifting of the "State of National Emergency", the government continues to threaten political opponents, activists and progressive legislators with warrantless arrest. Peaceful protest actions and assemblies are met with violent dispersals by the police while strict government monitoring in the media is still in place.Meanwhile, political killings in the provinces targeting leaders of peasants and workers organizations, human rights advocates, church people, lawyers, journalists and progressive local government officials are escalating.

Since 2001, more than 80 party members of Bayan Muna, at least 24 mebers of Anakpawis and Gabriela were killed by suspected military operatives. Santiago Teodoro, chair of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or BAYAN) in Bulacan province, was gunned down as he was driving in Barihan town on March 9. He was the 20th militant leader killed in the province since 2005 and the 47th in Central Luzon.These and the President’s consistent announcement of government and military crackdown on "enemies of the state", or should we say enemies of the President, only show that the Philippines is again under martial rule.We join the Filipino people in their quest for genuine democracy, social justice and respect for human rights. As we pledge our continuous solidarity, we urgently demand the following:

Immediate & unconditional release of Rep. Crispin Beltran & other political detainees;

Stop political intimidation and police harassment to progressive parliamentarians;

Respect freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and of the press; and

Uphold and respect the civil, political and basic human rights of the Filipino people;

12 March 2006, Hong Kong SAR

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